At the Oscars last year, the two top contenders for Best Picture were Avatar, the feel-good spectacle about a mythical tribe who stages an uprising against corporate occupying forces, and The Hurt Locker, the feel-bad movie about an American risk addict serving as a U.S. soldier in occupied Baghdad. In a terrific article about Oscar hopefuls published a few weeks before last year's Academy Awards, Mark Harris correctly predicted that Hurt Locker had the edge, for two reasons: Because it was the Movie That Spoke to the Moment and because It Was Time that a woman director's work won Best Picture honors.
This year the two top contenders, The Social Network and The King's Speech, both received four-star reviews from me. Like every other Oscar prognosticator, I am predicting that The King's Speech will win. Why, if it is The Social Network that is The Movie That Speaks to the Moment? Because while both are about entitled individuals, finally The Social Network is about a guy who doesn't question his entitlement and The King's Speech about a guy who is grateful to those who help him maintain his entitlement -- and title. The takeaway of Speech is one of gratitude, a warmer, fuzzier feeling than the ambiguity of Network. If I were voting, I'd give Speech best picture and Network best director. You? Your thoughts on takeaway message as a factor in Oscar voting?